Here's video of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's Wednesday, May 11, evening event of Poets at the White House. The president started the evening saying, "The power of poetry is that everybody experiences it differently.
There are no rules for what makes a great poem. Understanding it isn’t just about metaphor or meter. Instead, a great poem is one that resonates with us, that challenges us and that teaches us something about ourselves and the world that we live in. As Rita Dove says, “If [poetry] doesn’t affect you on some level that cannot be explained in words, then the poem hasn’t done its job.” Also known as, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. That’s a little ad-lib there. (Read full transcript.)I heard on Real Time that conservatives were upset because Obama invited Common to this evening of poetry. The UPI via CBS News reports that "Objections [arose] from a 2007 YouTube video of Common in which he says, among other things, 'tell the law, my Uzi weighs a ton.'" From John Lundberg:
If you heard about the White House poetry event this past Wednesday, you probably heard about it for the wrong reasons. The decision to invite hip-hop artist and actor Common to read poetry drew a surprising amount of furor from the right. Former Bush senior advisor Karl Rove and Fox News host Sean Hannity, among others, offered their in-depth analysis of Common's lyrics, coming off like a couple of flustered freshmen in a poetry workshop. I suppose such strange distractions are to be expected in the weeks after your political enemy kills Osama bin Laden, but the Common silliness was unfortunate, as it tarnished what was otherwise a great day for poetry.He's right about the controversy being "Common silliness." Don't conservatives have something more important to whine about like the crazy people who want to run for president under the conservative umbrella?
Rita Dove begins the recitations part of the evening. The other poets included Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann and Jill Scott. I'm grateful for the Internet because the way my week went last week, I would not have been able to see this night of poetry without it.